Are the rules written to be broken? Well, I don’t completely believe so. But should you always live by the rules? For sure, NO.
In the words of legendary artist, Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
Why are rules written? Rules are strict guidelines to make sure we take right decisions and do right things. The problem with rules is that they are always conditional and limited to a finite set of conditions. The situations which arise around us might not fall into these conditions.
Rules are written by 1 or a few people. They wrote whatever they felt was right, looking at the local maxima (as per Maths, means looking at the best in their limited visibility). Times change, circumstances change and rules might not. (like the driverless cars discussion, a whole new set of road laws should come for driverless cars to be used on roads).
In some cases, it is unwritten rules or custom or tradition or it is the way-it-works. By bending rules, I don’t mean breaking the law, or cheat or do fraud. Bending the rules means when you are so sure that you are doing it right, you don’t worry about rules or people trying to enforce them, but get the actual work done.
Recently I was part of organising an event, some other organisers wanted to bring in a speaker for a session “Soft skills for an entrepreneur” and this speaker has been a corporate person all throughout his life (A very good professional corporate career I should add). I was totally against it. Saying ‘No’ wasn’t a norm here. It got me several tags, including the #DisrespectToSeniors. I ran into quite a few problems afterwards because of this and several reasons like this. Do I care? Absolutely Not. Would I do the same thing now that I know the problems following it? Absolutely yes. When I know what I think/did is right. Hell, I don’t care what others feel about it. I don’t believe that just because it is the convention, it should be continued.
Whenever you hit a rule/norm/custom/tradition, think WHY is this the way it is?
Do you understand Why? If not, ask WHY? Did you get a good answer? If you are not sure, then better don’t break anything (because you should exactly know what you are doing). If you know that it isn’t right and your logic gives you a different way of doing it, stand up to get it done the right way. Mind you, you might be alone. But to change the way the world works, you don’t need a million people. You need the STRONG conviction of one person.
If not rules, not norms, nor custom then what? how do we know what is right? The answer is — your Wisdom, your Values and your Ethics. Trust yourself and take your stands. I have always felt that may it be rules or custom or even advises we get, we have to place our logic filter on top of it and do the multi-level screening. Take the ones which convince you, leave the rest. This way atleast, you own your life than someone else’s written RULES!
Barry’s Ted talk is a good one in this reference. Watch it here.